ROUND 8: ASSEN
When asked in press conference on Thursday if F1 wishing to come race at Assen a good idea, both Rossi and Lorenzo agreed it’s not as it would « destroy » the track. Assen is also called the cathedral of motorcycle racing, the boys showed us why on Sunday.
1. There’s one Winner…
The biggest winner on Sunday has to be Marc Marquez. Not only did he won the race but with his title rivals failing to stop him, the spaniard also created a bigger gap between and the horde chasing him in the championship standings.
Marquez took a gamble for the race. The one who used to always race the hard compound decided to go with a softer option which proved to be decisive for the race result: « i choose the soft because i felt better with it in some corners. It’s strange but sometimes the softer tire is harder in some corners than the hard one ».
The weather conditions, glorious sunshine and higher temperatures than expected, a rarity for the DutchGP also played a part in the race: « conditions were difficult because of the wind: it was easier behind somebody but also harder to open a gap ».
Yet Marquez, who gifted us another one of his famous save, had the race in hands and knew it: « at the start Jorge was pushing a lot and i tried to overtake him but he overtook me and then I was not able to keep the same rhythm or have the same rhythm like in the practice. Then I said, OK, we will wait (…) I was just waiting and when I see ‘F7’, I said now I will give everything; I will push all what I have and use all of the tyre. I was able to open a gap and then when I see ‘+0.2’, it was good because then I was able to do my lines ». Valentino on the other hand believed Marquez had an advantage all along and pushed when he needed to. If so then the spaniard was more of a Cat playing with his food before eating it than a rider trying everything to win.
It wasn’t all easy though for Marc, as he suffered many moments in the race especially two saves against Rins and Vinales.
Marc Marquez now has an advantage up to 65 to 41 point on the riders between Jorge Lorenzo (7th) and Valentino Rossi (2nd). Such a gap will prove to be very difficult to cut down for the Honda boy’s rivals but yet nothing’s impossible in racing.
2. Those who gets a podium…
Runner up on Sunday was a surprisingly great and incisive Alex Rins on the Suzuki. The younger spaniard was on the pace all weekend and knew he could do a great race at Assen: « it was the hardest race of my life. I was in a group 4th or 5th pushing because i knew i could have a podium ». Alex pushed then, and got past Lorenzo, Rossi, Dovizioso and Vinales to found himself second behind Marquez. Rins felt so well on the bike he wanted more: « It was incredible because two or three laps before I overtook Marc I saw him very strong on that corner, but I was feeling great, I was feeling good, then I think why not ? I overtook him but on the next lap he overtook me ». Alex Rins settled for 2nd behind the alien that is Marquez and was pleased with the result. If Assen proved anything it’s that the Suzuki rider is getting closer and closer to a first MotoGP success.
On the 3rd step of the podium we found Maverick Vinales. After weeks of struggles, the spaniard finally arrived at a track he knew he could do well as it’s a clear Yamaha track judging by the brand’s incredible records there: « For sure, I felt good with the full tank – even better than the last laps of the race because it was difficult; we prepared the bike for the first laps and it was nice to feel strong at the beginning, to overtake many riders. (…) I think the track helped a lot, it’s a good track for me and I know how to go fast here in Assen, but anyway I hope the problem got fixed and still on the electronics we need to work a lot ».
Hoping his old demons are now behind him, Vinales wish Yamaha could bring something new after the summer break so that he could finally fight for the title.
3. And there’s those for whom you wish there was more places on the podium
Behind the 3 spaniards were a whole bunch of deserving podium finishers.
Rossi fought as much as he could hoping he could end Yamaha’s current failure to win a race since the 2017 DutchGP. The italian feels they still need to do a step forward in acceleration to fight for the win and believes their form this weekend was mainly due to the track suiting their bike than to the M1 improving.
The two ducati riders, Dovizioso and Lorenzo, also failled to take a place on the final podium but that was not for lack of them trying though. Number 99 did a start that will probably go into motorcycle history books as one of the very best one in modern era, coming from 10 on the grid to 2nd by the end of turn 1. Fired like a bullet Lorenzo lost no time to take on the lead from Marquez, putting his hammer down hoping to create a gap that could give him a 3rd win in a row. The spaniard tried, but his tires deteriorating too much causing spinning and the fights everywhere on the track left him without enough energy to battle for the win. Thinking positive first, Lorenzo was happy with the race itself more than the result and also glad his save in the early part of the race causing Rossi to touch him on the back didn’t ended up into them crashing out.
If Lorenzo was happy with his race, Dovizioso wasn’t so much as he feel like the incident with Rossi caused him to lost a podium well needed. Nonetheless, it’s one down, one to go for Ducati as the next race in Germany (sachsenring) will also proved to be difficult for them and if they want to have a real chance at the championship they will have to get as many points as possible there before going to tracks where they should easily fight for the first place after the summer break.
4. Honorable mentions
Even though we didn’t talk about it, it’s worth mentioning that Cal Crutchlow found a place in the leading group’s craziest fight, ending up 6th.
Johann Zarco seems to have found the very highest level he could get from his current M1 as he, once again, couldn’t really shine his usual shine at Assen. Never really in the fight, he finishes at a lonely 8th place, few seconds behind the lead group.
Another weekend and another nightmare for Dani Pedrosa. Again forced to go in Q1 on Saturday he qualified 18 and finished the race 15th scoring just one point. The spaniard believes having his future not yet sorted (the retirement still being an option) is forcing his head not to focus only on the track’s action. Rumor has it that while the Yamaha/Petronas satellite team should be announced during the Sachsenring weekend, Dani’s deal with them is far from being done, lots of talks regarding the spaniard’s demands still being up in the air.